Midsummer Night's Dream
Royal Opera House 2005
A Midsummer Night’s Dream has long been an adventure playground for theatre directors, who tend to permit their designers free rein to conjure up all manner of post-Freudian dreamlands. Now, at last, a young opera director has braved the same risky imaginative leap, masterminding as sensitive a response to Britten’s magical music as to Shakespeare’s wondrous world of words.
Already responsible for stylish shows at Garsington and Holland Park, ETO and Opera North, Olivia Fuchs has come up with a second offering in the Linbury Studio which should soon ensure her promotion to the main stage. …
A series of rectangular boxes trimmed in blue neo light was all Fuchs needed, along with suitably spooky back projections, to evoke a world in which fantasy and reality were interwoven to the point of the most potent, evocative of dreams. While never losing sight of the comedy at its heart, the production explores the subtlest nuances of sexual jealousy, of the unhealthily proprietorial element which can undermine the most romantic relationships.
Olivia Fuchs’s finely layered production is in no sense conventionally naturalistic. For the Athenian wood you get the blue-neon vertical strips of Niki Turner’s minimalist set. For Puck’s “girdle round the earth” you get a flash of light (Bruno Poet’s design) whizzing round the theatre, illuminating key Shakespeare words. And as the characters sleep, Jon Driscoll’s film projections summon up all sorts of Freudian traumas. I loved the snake knotting and unknotting as Hermia tosses and turns; r the owl flying through the night as William Towers’s saturnine Oberon stalks his nocturnal kingdom. .. The homoerotic undertone of Puck’s relationship with Oberon is intriguing, and the way he finishes the opera breathtaking. But then, so is the whole show.
… und man kann die Inszenierung eigentlich nur in den höchsten Tönen loben.
Independent on Sunday
Fuchs’s production has translated this uneven opera into a seductive, witty, touching entertainment. The ensemble singing is faultless, the designs ravishing, the movement strong, funny and sexy, the playing superb.